Post Swindon Thoughts
The clubs relegation fears were confirmed yesterday with a drab goalless draw to Swindon Town. Rarely was there any fight, urgency, passion or commitment in the team and we have begun to play with a defensive style that a team with only nine men wouldn`t employ, we have very little attacking intent. On yesterdays performance it`s easy to see why we have only scored in three of the last ten games.
Usually when a man is given the first team coaching role at a club you expect to see changes in the style of play or little noticeable tweaks here and there. Whatever changes, you expect to see differences in the team when they play but since Steve Holland was promoted to first team coach at Crewe I don`t think we have seen this, in very small abundance anyway.
The main difference is we have become very defensive, embarrassingly defensive. There were numerous points in yesterdays game where when defending a Swindon attack we had eight men in a solid line alone the edge of the area, allowing Swindon to freely build up momentum in the middle of the pitch. There are no leaders on the pitch to stop this or drive the players out, the midfield yesterday have all come through the Crewe ranks and were clearly doing what they had been told, all holding defensive positions on the pitch.
A Dave Brammer or a Kenny Lunt would have stopped this happening by organising the team, telling them where to play and pushing them out, the lack of any experience in the team is showing heavily. No disrespect to Julian Baudet who was captain yesterday but he has trouble organising his own positioning at times, let alone the rest of the team, as he demonstrated at least twice yesterday by offering the Swindon strikers golden opportunities to score which they failed to take.
Despite our defensive mentality and men behind the ball approach, yesterday was the first clean sheet we have kept in nine games, and in between the last clean sheet against Walsall, we have let in 17 goals, it clearly isn`t working.
Steve Holland as good as admitted after the game yesterday what many of the fans have been saying for a while, that we are playing for a clean sheet and anything else is a bonus. This seems to be the mentality in every game, whether it be Swindon at home or Swansea away. Ambition and intent are something we gave up a long time a go and I think the main aim seems to be not to get thrashed every week. In certain games this season it almost like we having been playing for a one nil or two nil defeat, such is the defensive mentality of the play once we have gone behind.
I`m of the opinion that the younger players don`t seem to know any better. In the academy winning every week isn`t the main objective and it seems like many of them have carried this attitude into the first team, quite content to do what the coach tells them without any desire to rebel and show ambition and commitment to the cause.
Would Dave Brammer just fall into line and play this horrible defensive style that we have adopted or would reorganise the midfield and use his experience to steady things? We all know the answer to that, even Kenny Lunt wasn`t the most vocal captain when he was at the club but he could organise his midfield.
When Neil Cox is in the team this is supposedly because of his experience and leadership qualities, but how can he organise a team from midfield, a position he had never played before until he came to Crewe, a holding position we created for him because he isn`t good enough to play anywhere else, a role which isn`t the most demanding.
A clear example of the inexperience and lack of leadership was yesterday when Swindon went down to ten men, as soon as Paynter had been sent off Holland had all the players over telling them to get the ball wide and afterwards was heavily gesticulating this from the touchline. The players seemed to ignore this though and kept playing the dinks through to the front players, very frustrating to watch indeed. Ryan Lowe came on and did the right thing in standing on the right hand touchline to create width; unfortunately we never gave him the ball to spread the play, unexplainable.
This defensive style is painful to watch, and with little threat in attack at present, when the ball is in the final third we lack the quality and potency to really create anything meaningful. The fans understand we need to stop shipping goals in but this defensive structure in the team isn`t helping that, and it certainly isn`t helping us to score goals at the other end. Even if we get in a striker with a proven goal scoring record, they could have done little with the service Pope and Maynard were given yesterday, I think the midfield should be the next to be overhauled, because we have no organisation or creativity.
I think until Steve Holland abandons this defensive mentality and realises that we need to score goals to stay in League One we are going to struggle. Yesterday Swindon clearly came for a point and we were happy to oblige, but before they went down to ten men they in fact realised they fancied getting the three points and made attacking substitutions, we didn`t, we seemed quite content with the point and the clean sheet we had.
I know people will say you always support your team through thick and thin, and this is true, but the style of the football at Crewe is so poor at the moment I don`t blame anyone for staying away. We are running out of ideas and somebody within the regime needs to take control and stamp some authority on the team because at this moment in time we look lost and out of ideas, a very worrying situation indeed.